The catalytic (C) subunit is the phosphorylating component of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase, a key element in a multitude of hormonally controlled cellular functions. The C-subunit, thought to be a solitary protein until several years ago, is now known to be a group of isoforms comprising as yet C alpha, C beta, and C gamma. We report here the isolation of a full-length cDNA clone coding for a hitherto undiscovered isoform of the bovine C-subunit. The end parts of the 5'-coding region and the 5'-noncoding region of this 3365-base pair clone are unique, whereas the rest of the coding region and the 3'-noncoding region are identical to those of isoform C beta. The clone has therefore been named C beta 2. The deduced amino acid sequence of C beta 2 has a length of 397 amino acid residues and a calculated molecular mass of 46.1 kDa, thus being some 6 kDa higher than that of any known C-subunit. In vitro translation of clone C beta 2 resulted in a single 46-kDa protein. The unique amino-terminal sequence of C beta 2 lacks the usual myristoylation site of C-subunits. It contains a stretch of hydrophobic residues (residues 7-19) and a stretch which may fold into an amphiphilic alpha-helix (residues 16-27) conceivably serving targeting functions. The existence of isoform C beta 2 is confirmed by: (i) the isolation of a second independent C beta 2 clone, (ii) the development of products of expected size and sequence upon amplification from total RNA of various bovine tissues with the polymerase chain reaction using C beta 2-specific primers, and (iii) Northern blots probed with a cDNA fragment containing exclusively C beta 2 sequence. C beta 2 mRNA has a size of 4.4 kilobases and is expressed in various bovine tissues, mainly in heart and brain. Both the size and tissue distribution are indistinguishable from those of C beta mRNA, thus explaining the failure of previous investigations to distinguish it from C beta 2. Southern blotting and polymerase chain reaction with genomic DNA indicate that intron sequence(s) exist at the C beta 2/C beta deviation site (bases 267/268). The deviation site is equivalent to the exon 1/exon 2 splice site of the mouse C-subunit. Since splice sites are highly conserved and since not a single mutation is found downstream of the deviation site, it is tempting to suppose that C beta 2 and C beta are coded by one gene which possesses two alternatively spliced exons 1.